To ensure non-English speaking residents in New Jersey are able to access and understand their credit reports, legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez and Assemblymen Jamel Holley and Gary Schaer to require consumer reporting agencies to make credit reports available in Spanish and other languages was signed into law Friday by Governor Phil Murphy.
“Most credit reporting agencies provide reports in English only,” said Lopez (D-Middlesex). “This makes it more difficult for people who speak primarily Spanish or another language to assess their credit reports and see if they are accurate. With nearly one third of New Jersey residents speaking languages other than English at home, credit reporting agencies must make sure they can accommodate all consumers.”
The new law (formerly A-5055) requires that information subject to disclosure pursuant to the current credit reporting law be made available to consumers upon request in Spanish and any other language determined by the Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs to be the first language of a significant number of consumers in the state. This determination is to be, at the discretion of the director, based on the numerical percentages of all consumers in the state for whom English or Spanish is not a first language or in a manner consistent with any regulations promulgated by the director for this purpose.
Under the law, the director shall require that consumer reporting information is made available in at least the 10 languages other than English and Spanish that are most frequently spoken as a first language by New Jersey consumers. A consumer reporting agency that compiles and maintains files on consumers on a nationwide basis must provide notice of reporting services in other languages on their website in a clear and conspicuous location, and in any language as determined by the director.
“It’s so important for everyone to keep track of their credit history,” said Holley (D-Union) “This law will lift a barrier for non-English speaking New Jerseyans who would otherwise have to seek out a translator to review their reports. The process would be far more simple and accessible to all, just as it should be.”
“Navigating a credit report can be challenging enough without an added language barrier,” said Schaer (D-Bergen, Passiac). “It’s only fair that credit reports are available and accessible in multiple languages so as to not disadvantage those whose primary language is not English.”
The measure passed the Assembly in May by a vote of 65-7, and the Senate in March, 34-0.